whose fault, this shutdown?


Blaming is a popular human sport. Usually, we blame others, anyone but me and my crowd. The shutdown: whose fault is it? I’m tempted to say it’s really no one group at fault, but is instead the result of a clash of ideas. A clash of ideas which has its roots in that which makes us American. Independence.

When I compare our culture to others, I am always struck by this word. Independence. Our most important founding document? Arguably, the Declaration of …Independence (it’s text is here… it takes about 10 minutes to read, if you never have, you should).

When I stopped and read the Declaration of Independence just now, I thought of where we came from and what we were declaring ourselves free of: British tyranny.  As I read it, I realized, being an independent sort, that I resonated with it and that, as I read it, I felt shadows of that long gone tyrant, that British King upon our current situation. I felt a tyranny.

Indeed, in the 237 years since, this nation and its government has grown to such a great size and power and complexity that I shudder to think of what exactly the founders would think. Other minds who are competent to discuss those thinkers of the past will have to weigh in on that (and I doubt that there will be an agreement among them either).

We are indeed under a new tyrant. I do not know her name, but she is certainly not called Wisdom. This new tyrant without name is one whose core attributes are divisiveness, self-aggrandizement and of re-election, and perhaps if not re-election, of obstruction. Some of the members of this tyranny are the members of Congress. But are they at fault? One man’s answer is “No, we elected them.” So are we at fault?

I say “No” again. I say no because our choices are so poor. Look at your last congressional election. Who were your choices? Were you able to choose well because of the way your candidates thought? I couldn’t. Did they, do they… think at all or just follow their party leader? Are they allowed to think? Isn’t it the job of the party whip to keep them from thinking and just vote a certain way?

It would appear that in the current Congress the only people doing any real thinking are the ones who are the obstructionists. Those who may well bring a level of destruction on Mr. Lincoln’s party that will take many years to recover from. Their apparent leader is is not even a member of their own house, he is an eschewed member of the Senate. He seems to be the only one standing on his principles and therefore he is being followed (misguided path that it may be). Certainly the honorable Speaker of the House is not leading, he is only interested in keeping the Speaker’s gavel.

So, again, this unnamed Tyranny which, again, has as its most common attributes divisiveness, self-aggrandizement and of re-election. But, not just re-election, that is not common to them all. Some of them have as their third attribute obstructionism. But we don’t elect the whole House, we only elect our member. Look at that choice for a moment please.

Look please at your own congressional district. Did you get to choose between thinkers? Look at the way your state legislature has drawn the district. What are the chances that your district was drawn to make it either more red or more blue? Almost certainly, it was. Whoever had the power at the time, in your state legislature, whether red or blue, it was they who held the marker on the state map to make it more likely that their team would win in the next even numbered year. And there dear reader, there is yet another problem, the tyranny of the two party system.

Look at my own dear Commonwealth of Virginia (which I love dearly), look at our current Governor’s race. What choices we have. God help us. And look at the scandal in the life of the current holder of said high office. Our choice for the GOP nominee was not made by ballot boxes, our choice was made in a convention, under which I would suggest the Tyranny of the few decided for the voiceless many.

What of the President? He is making Obamacare the linchpin of it all. Perhaps like all the huge programs of the past (Social Security, Medicare, et al), he should put it on the table enough to have some needed reforms made to the reform. Is he allowing it to be his own tyranny?


The new tyranny is here, and she has been named, but she is not new, she is as old as history and she is Self. The statesman who sacrificed self on behalf of the people is long dead and buried. Today, we have politicians, who worship the idol of the Self in all its attributes:  divisiveness, self-aggrandizement, re-election and obstruction. The people are not their problem.

That’s why the government is shut down.

Washington, Richmond and your state capital are filled with politicians who are primarily interested in Self rather than serving. Perhaps you will say, it is a flaw in what our system has become. I say it is a problem of the heart. And hearts are only changed from the inside out. That is our hope, the One who served ultimately through His death and resurrection and is willing to change our hearts from the idol of Self to becoming a servant. Utopian? Maybe? Hopeful? Definitely, because of He who eschewed Self and died as a servant.

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